Are You Caught in a Delusion of Ruts?

Being in a rut is an all too common problem for many people who scratch. Not surprisingly, this causes tons of frustration for anyone who believes they are in such a rut. Often times this can lead to you losing the joy you experience when scratching, or even worse loss of motivation to scratch at all. Ruts are an all too real problem. Or are they?

Why would you ever doubt the existence of ruts? After all, you’ve likely been hearing about them from every walk of life imaginable for so long, you’d probably feel like a fool to consider that they could just be a fallacy. So when you begin to feel you are suffering from one, it only becomes more real to you.

Subtle Improvement

What if you were to reject popular belief for now in order to consider what is really behind this so called rut of yours? Perhaps you’re experiencing a lack of growth in your scratch skills. You feel like you’ve been at it for awhile and there is no obvious progress taking place. What you have to understand is that, while you may have high expectations of yourself, you’re not necessarily going to see any big advancement over night.

In fact you’ve probably also had the experience of feeling like you were in a rut and suddenly you have a major breakthrough seemingly out of nowhere. How can this be so? Well the truth is you were never in a rut. You were simply going through the process of improvement. You made mistake, after mistake, after mistake, all the while getting closer to hitting the nail on the head. So what happened? You stayed persistent with your scratching until you finally achieved what seemed like such a big struggle before.

Frustration Takes Over

When you have a big challenge on your hands it may seem overwhelming because you are constantly comparing your current skill with that of what you want it to be. As you continue to struggle through, you start accumulating all these experiences of frustration caused by not yet achieving your goal. So much so that a lot of times you’ll fail to realize how much closer you’re actually getting to what you set out to do originally and all your focus gets fixated on your frustration from scratching instead. This type of thinking is really pointless and here we are, right back to believing we’re in a rut.

A Change of Focus Makes a World of Difference

If you look back to the previous perspective you’ll see that part of it was right. Focusing on what you ultimately want to achieve with each goal you set for yourself is important. However, focusing too much on the struggle is clearly taking the life out of something you should be having fun doing. So what you must focus on instead is each little victory you make along the way to your goal.

Now you might be saying to yourself, "What victories? I haven’t succeeded yet." Think of all your mistakes when scratching as a learning experience. Not one to think that you’re just not getting it, you’re not good enough, or any other garbage you’ve been feeding yourself. Take the time to actually think about what’s going wrong and how you can fix it.

It’s so easy to bang away at something without really thinking, but successful people don’t do this. Successful people recognize that taking the time to analyze what’s holding them back is worth doing because they believe, whether they know the answer or not, they will get to the bottom of things. So each time they make a mistake they realize it’s worth celebrating, because now they have another thing they can learn from and this type of mindset will inevitably lead to larger victories.

The Many Faces of Ruts

So now you might be saying to yourself, "Well that’s great, but I’m not having that kind of rut. I’m having a creative block." Or perhaps you have some other issue that you consider to be slowing you down to a screeching halt. You can’t let it get to you though. You have to realize that all of these kinds of feelings you’re experiencing are really just your mind signaling to you that you need to take a step back and truly think about what’s wrong and how you can fix it.

Sulking about it isn’t going to do any good. The brain loves to problem solve and if you just muck about, you’re not allowing it to do what it does best. You may not have the answer now, but if you get used to thinking of ways to resolve your scratch problems, you will resolve them. It’s a healthy habit to develop that WILL yield results.

The First Step is Faith

Faith in yourself. Faith in your goals. Faith in the capacity of the human brain. And why shouldn’t you have this faith? Look around you. There are many who have achieved great feats in scratching. At one time or another, they were no different than you. Cultivate faith and then take action!

Grappling With Nerves

Being nervous is a common concern among scratch dj’s, but what’s the biggest culprit behind nervousness? The biggest cause of nervousness, hands down, is the fear of making mistakes. If you’re familiar with the fear of mistakes, which you naturally should be, then you’ve likely dealt with it in a couple ways. You accepted it and moved forward anyway, or you let it prevent you from opportunities you would like to take on. More realistically though, you probably dealt with it in both ways or you wouldn’t be reading this. You moved forward enough to seek answers to the problems that ail you, but you’re still holding yourself back in some way.

There are many situations where becoming nervous about mistakes can affect you. Live performance, training with an instructor and even scratching on your own can all bring up feelings of panic. No one wants to look bad in front of others, not even themselves. The desire to scratch at your best is at the heart of any scratch dj that cares about their skills and how they’re perceived. Thus, the thought of screwing up, even just a little can be quite nerve wracking.

Redefining Mistakes

Let’s face it, mistakes are impossible to avoid so surely avoiding them is not the solution. What you need to understand is that mistakes exist for a reason. And that reason is to give you the chance to become who you truly want to be. If you run from or cower at the mere thought of mistakes, you have ZERO chance of ever getting to the skill level you desire, or experiencing all the great things that come with facing your fear head on. In short, mistakes are all potential learning experiences.

In fact, no amount of researching, teaching, training, coaching or mentoring will ever mean squat if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes and make them often. I have seen it with many of my students before. They come in with this intense feeling like they need to impress me and then freeze up, struggling even more than they should. Ironically their fear of making mistakes is causing them to make more. It’s not until I introduce to them how important it is to freely make mistakes and the benefit of making them, that they become relaxed and start living up to their full potential.

Don’t Get Upset, Get Excited!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not encouraging you to think that messing up regularly is something to aspire to. Of course you still want to get to the point where mistakes are minimal and you scratch at a pro level. However, in order to get to that point you have to embrace mistakes wholeheartedly and go out of your way to learn from each and every one of them. If you truly do this, not only will the fear of making mistakes begin to fall away, but your skills will begin improving at a more rapid pace.

So the next time you make a mistake, don’t get frustrated. Get thrilled and ask yourself what you can learn from it. The answer may not be obvious all the time, but it will come to you eventually. Believe me, because you’re going to keep making that mistake until you do. I know because I’ve made a TON of mistakes over the years, but one way or another I found and implemented solutions. Even if it meant seeking help from an outside source, like the training I did with my music mentor Tom Hess.

Cultivating Faith

Believing in your potential to achieve is important. Many people just like you have gone through the same scratch struggles and overcame them, but NONE of them would have done so had they not developed a "Can and WILL do!" mentality. Notice I said "WILL" and not just "Can". Simply believing you can, will yield very little results because it requires no action, but believing you will propels you into action because deep down inside you know that you won’t if you don’t physically tackle the problem at hand.

Don’t Let One Day Spoil a Lifetime

Undoubtedly, if you’re used to viewing mistakes as a negative it will take time to recondition yourself to feel otherwise. So don’t let a so called bad day on the turntables allow you to revert to your old way of thinking. Reread this article multiple times and keep reinforcing the idea that mistakes are your ally. Learn from them and they will reward you with more than you could ever wish for!

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